With The School Budget Defeated what’s In Store for Middletown?

The voters have spoken and the words that they spoke yesterday all started with the word “NO”; “No” to the school budget, “No” to the incumbents, “No” to the teachers, “No” to higher taxes and “No” to the kids of Middletown.

So now with “No” being the word of the day, what’s in store for Middletown after the dust settles and reality sinks in?

With residents voting “No” on the school budget, the school budget will be sent to the Township Committee for review. The Committee will look it over and decide if there is anything left within the bare bones $140M budget to cut. Without a clear idea of where to make specific cuts, they will in my opinion, make a token gesture at cutting a few hundred thousand dollars from the budget and insist that the Board of Education eliminate excess administrators from its staff, thereby seemingly to save after school and extracurricular activities.

By voting out all the current incumbents, Pat Walsh, Dawn Diorio and Leonora Caminiti from the Middletown Board of Education, residents have lost strong and experienced voices that always had the best interests of the students first and foremost in their minds while making policy decisions.

In their place you will have 3 unproven individuals in Vincent Brand (who has never attended a Board of Education meeting in his life), Michael Mascone (President of Middletown Soccer League, who wants to open up the turf fields at the high schools to his soccer kids) and Chris Aveta (who as a member of the Carteret BOE became a caustic member of that board and became known for his confrontational incidents with teachers and administrators while serving just 1 term). All three, despite their denials to the contrary, were recruited by and sponsored by the members of the Middletown GOP in order to gain influence over the school board.

I can only hope that Brand and Mascone were being sincere when they told me at the April 16th BOE Candidate Forum that they would be their own men and not succumb to pressure from GOP members on the Township Committee who they barely know.

Those that voted “No” on the school budget fell for the caustic anti-teacher, anti-tax rhetoric touted by Governor Christie in his battle with the teachers union. Christie couldn’t legally break contracts that Governor Corzine negotiated with state labor unions, so he attempted to have local municipalities circumvent the collective bargaining process for him by taking local school board surpluses and cutting state school aid, forcing Middletown and other districts throughout the state to announce massive layoffs of teachers and support staff. All of which Governor Christie said could be avoided it teachers agreed to a one year wage freeze and contribute more to their health and pension benefits as a way to control property taxes.

Unfortunately the governor wasn’t being honest with people in Middletown; Christie took $11M away from the school system. That type of funding cut could never have been made up with wage and benefit concessions from teachers alone. Layoffs, cuts to student services and a tax increase were going to be needed regardless of whether or not the Middletown teachers agreed to open and renegotiated their labor contract. By rejecting this budget there will be no significant impacted on the amount of property taxes that Middletown residents pay.

Finally, how will the rejection of the school budget affect the children of Middletown? That will ultimately depend on the Township Committee and how many additional cuts they chose to make to it.

Further cuts to the budget could mean that sports programs and extracurricular activities are eliminated, an increase to class size and maybe in a worst case scenario redistricting of the school system by closing 1 or more schools.

But before making further cuts to the budget the Township Committee should keep in mind that many students rely on extracurricular activities for college entry. Admissions officers at colleges look for “well-rounded student”, who not only get excellent grades, but who also play sports, perform in the band, join clubs and/or work a job.

Rejection of the school budget does have consequences that a majority of voters may not have realized at the time of their vote. I hope that their short sightedness and temporary anger at the teachers for not accepting a wage freeze does not have an adverse affect on the kids of Middletown, who on the contrary to what Governor Christie said about the teacher throughout the state using them as pawns in their fight against him, it is in fact Christie who has used the students as pawns against the teachers union.

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28 Comments

Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown Board of Education

28 responses to “With The School Budget Defeated what’s In Store for Middletown?

  1. I'd like to thank Middletown Mike for helping elect new school board members and vote down the school budget. I think many voters just looked at where mike stood on the issues and candidates and voted the opposite way. Thanks mike!

  2. Mike you're drinking the NJEA kool-ade.Christie's saving the educational system. NJEA will be dismantled, the corrupt leaders will be gone. Collusion will be gone. Abusive spending will be gone. Contracts with teachers, administrators will be in line with the economy, the money will hit the classrooms first,for the children's benefit, not the opposite…the corrupt hands will be out of the taxpayers pockets.

  3. Yeh..right…a new BOE member who has never attended a BOE meeting in his life!!! Where do you people store your brains???Two of the defeated BOE members were republicans in case you are interested in facts.This whole argument requires some intelligence and maturity not exhibited by the ah's who get their rocks off with this bullshit!!!Remember Trenton only has a republican governor and lt.governor(who talks out of both sides of her mouth) so we area long way from a dictatorship!!!

  4. I am sorry to say but both of you are wrong. The school budget was going to be voted down whether I supported it or not and I am not drink the NJEA Kool-Aid.Christie's rhetoric was wrong, wage freezes would never have saved a single job in Middletown.You can check earlier posts by me, I thought it was the wrong decision for Middletown teacher make by refusing to accept a wage freeze. They should have bitten the bullet for the good of Middletown residents, it would have gone a long way to sooth the raw nerves that are still exposed from several years ago when over 200 teachers went to jail. But they chose not to because they had something called a contract.A contract that is set to expire next year and will be dealt with through the collective bargaining process. A one year freeze would have meant little to this years overall budget.I supported the budget because of my kids and the services that are provided to them by the school system. Eliminating even a small portion of those services would hamper their overall education.Show me in Middletown, the collusion, abusive spending and mismanagement because I don't see it.What will you people say when class size reaches 35 or 40 students and instead of the kids getting and effective education they get something that barely passes as efficient. There will be no computers in the classroom or individualized learning, no new text books or after school activities that students rely on. That's a great future people like you are leading the kids of Middletown towards.But I'm sure that that doesn't bother you since you know longer have kids in the system and as long as they got theirs others can be damned.

  5. Mike said: "By rejecting this budget there will be no significant impacted on the amount of property taxes that Middletown residents pay."This is true from a numbers standpoint – but this does / should send a message to the BOE and teachers. It is a typical liberal analysis to say, when a vote doesn't go your way, that those who didn’t agree with your position are (in your words): “falling for rhetoric”, “short sighted”, “don’t realize the consequences of their vote”, etc. The people who voted no, and voted out the incumbents, do have a valid point of view … even if it is different from yours.

  6. "Show me mismanagement"Paying for 2 superintendents for too many years, turf field fiasco's, teachers going to jail, using stimulus money to set up full day pre-school "at no additional cost to taxpayers" (yes for last year's set up … but the money having to be added to the budget this year), etc.

  7. I think people are angry and this is the only way they can feel some kind of retribution. The Middletown Gov wastes our money hand-over-fist and the teachers are getting pay increases & lifetime benefits while the hard working citizens are losing their jobs, taking commuting cost increases, swallowing increased taxes and have no pension or health benefits upon retirement. I’m angry too.

  8. Where did all of the budget info on the BOE website go? The budget, budget presentation, and anything related to it was completely removed from the BOE website.

  9. Now the Township Committee gets to review the school budget. Heck, they can't even get together and put a Township budget together. They won't enve sit and discuss it. Here we are, almost 4 months into a budget year and still no budget. When will the TC find time to work on the school budget when they can't even do thier own budget?

  10. In regards to your comments about the extracurricular activities I have a few things to say. A school's primary purpose is to educate. Sports and extracurricular activities that do not contribute to academic abilities should not have been funded in the first place. The fact that college's look for these is a problem of theirs.

  11. Oh Please,Lets get real, sports and extracurricular activities have been a part of schooling since school began.Wether it is football, baseball, basketball,chest club glee club or future civics leaders clubs they have all been around and funded since well before you were born, if in fact you are younger then 125years old.Colleges have been looking for "well rounded" individuals for years now that come from all walks of life, not just from A+ academic kids who are book smart or know how to take a test.Bringing kids to college campuses from all walks of life with many different hobbies and interests adds to ones life experiences and helps in the education of everyone not just a select few.

  12. The annon above obviously doesn't have kids in the school and hasn't a clue about how extra curricular activities as well as grades help students get scholorships. Colleges look for well rounded students. This short sightedness and ignorance is unbelievable. Why do you think people move to areas that have good schools and good sports program? So their kids have opportunities to go to good colleges. Or maybe you just don't think that's important either.We all can't afford private schools.

  13. Academia and sports are to areas that should have never been mixed. Colleges should not look for them.

  14. anon above: It doesn't matter what you think colleges should do.The reality is that they do. Again you probably don't have children, or maybe you never had, and you write like you never got past the 8th grade.

  15. Mike,It was nice to meet you at the Middletown Mornings meeting. Your posts are enjoyable enough to read but I once again advise you to not be so partisan. A voice like yours would do more for the community if it wasn't used to shout inaccuracies and accusations so freely and without merit. If you truly have Middletown's best interest at heart, stop spreading rumors and stirring up anger. Make your point to be certain but don't assume that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong or corrupt. I look forward to seeing you again and best of luck with all of your endeavors. Vinnie Brand

  16. Vinnie,It was nice to meet you also, we had a very nice conversation that I enjoyed very much.I want to congratulate you on your election to the school board and I honestly hope that your time on the board is well served.Drop me an email and we can discuss any and all rumors or inaccuracies you like. Remeber, I offered you an opportunity to post your comments on the blog but you never sent them. I would have played it straight and let others decide. Neither one of us are horrible or bad guys, we just have different views.

  17. Mike,Let this Vincent Brand and those other two "put their money where their mouths" are because when they don't and they attempt to ruin our schools, they will be taking down themselves and the pinhead mayor who has put politics before the kids in this town!!! Error #1; Supposedly they supported the budget. Wanna bet on that one??

  18. So glad I found this siteWhat is Middletown Mornings? Would like to go. Anyway I voted no and not for the incumbants mainly because I just think at this time we need to start spending within our means. If we only have X amount of money that's what we sould spend! We cannot just keep increasing school taxes, on top of municipal taxes untl residents just cannot afford to pay anymore.Where can I see the budget broken out? Looking at the BOE website there are 3 positions of AP for operations- what do these people do and why do we need 3 of them at 1 HS? why are there 3 places in the budget powerpoint that show supplies and books? Would it kill the kids to use last years textbooks? even for one more year. We also are paying for leasing laptops, so are we paying for e-books and textbooks? These are things that need to be examined and explained. Extra-curriculars- almost everyone who plays a sport has paid upwards of $100 for rec or travel leagues up until the every day practice/game schedule of HS makes it almost impossible to do both- so what is the big deal for a parent to pay for a sport? If your child does a club why would you not pay for them to partake if this is their interest? Alot of clubs don't even have any overhead- student gov't, SADD, yearbook, etc. Extra art or drama class might have a small overhead, so students provide their own supplies. Big deal!Yes colleges look at extras for a well rounded student, but that doesn't mean the school system has to provide these outlets. Anyway, no college cares if a student played middle school sports! Get real.Parents need to stop expecting all things from a school system- If your child needs a special service then pay for it- it's your kid!

  19. Mike – I'm all for good debate on the issues, but a couple of things that some of us would really appreciate. For one, don't cast aspersions on people that you don't know. Have an open mind to the new board members instead of making assumptions. In your world, would we never have new board members? Would we keep incumbants forever. Change is good, particularly in this arena and this economic climate. Give the new members a chance to get their feet wet. I am sure you didn't hold our President's inexperience against him…Second, please debate in good faith. Your statement that a freeze would not save a single job is an outright lie. Teachers were due for a $ 2.9 million salary increase. At least half of the 72 teaching positions would have been saved by the freeze and Bilbao told the union that every dollar of the freeze would go towards saving teaching positions. It is hard enough to figure out how to change our situation as a town and a state without misinformation and outright lies. If you want to contribute to the solution, be straight with people and avoid spin.

  20. Adam,I think the teachers should have taken the freeze and I said as much in earlier posts.if they did accept a freeze there would still have been a need to increase the tax rate.This issue will now be settled at the bargaining table next year.

  21. Middletown Mornings is a morning coffe klatch group that meets once a month at various locations around town. The woman that organizes the meeting is Stephanie Murray. I don't have much more information than that.

  22. Mike – Good spin, but you didn't respond to what I said. You stated that teachers taking a freeze would not have saved a single job. Do you stand by that? You seem to be trying to play both sides. My point is that misinformation is bad for all if you really the best for our town.

  23. Adam,regardless of whether or not teachers accepted a wage freeze their where still going to be teachers laid off.I never saw in print or heard Karen Bilbao say in public what you say she told the union. I never heard any of the candidate for the board of ed say it either.As for having an open mind to new board members and making assumptions – I think that change is generally good and no problem with new blodd on any baord or commission and i don't make assumptions lightly.For years the Middletown GOP who have controlled the township council for 29 years, have had varing degrees of success at running candidate for the school board, this year was no exception. What was different was that Deputy Mayor Fiore openly sign petitions for the candidates which is a No-No.I talked to people who worked in the Carteret school system when Aveta was on the BOE there and they told me horror stories about his time on that board.Aveta was/is good friends with Fiore both in Carteret and now in Middletown. Both left Carteret about the same time to come to Middletown and now Avetas wife is on the planning board less that 5 years after moving to town.Patisan Politics have no place on the BOE, it leads to disasterous results when you allow politics to prevail in decesion making instead of having the interests of the kids in the system first and foremost in mind.

  24. NJ cannot sustain the educational system as it stands today. It must and will change, the Unions must get real or get out of the way! Most teachers would agree change is needed, except the old nasty, gumpy,lazy, tenured, no-good teachers that take up space, hate their job, and take away jobs from the Young educated anxious upbeat and innovated teachers coming out of college ready to teach and the kids & parents will tell you who they are. Out with the OLD lazy tenured teachers in with the NEW!

  25. I agree that the way education is funded in this state is a problem but I don't think that placing blame on teachers, whether good or bad, is the problem.Besides the obvious need for consolidation, no one has been talking about an alturnative methods for financing education so it is not reliant on property taxes.

  26. Tonight's Board meeting was disgraceful. The fault with the "Budget Blame" lies squarely in the lap of the "Old Guard" who vote THEMSELVES quiet 2.9% raises in Executive Sessions and wonder why the incumbents lost. Keep voting right down your old lines, the voters have spoken once and will continue to speak. The Old Guard Board is a DISGRACE and should be ashamed to look at themselves in the mirror after they crawl out of the overpaid superintendents beds. Our children deserve so much better than school yard squabbles. It is time for the Old Guard to wake up and STEP OUT.

  27. You need to be a bit more specific Anonymous.Board members are volunteers so they could not have voter themselves 2.9% raises. If you are refering to the tax levy that supports the budget, that was never in question.We need a little more information from you and a little less grandstanding.

  28. >I borrowed your graphic and then read your blog. I hope the vote outcome was favorable to the kids. If you get a chance, please let me know. Dor2427@me.com. My school district, Mokena, IL. (#159) is trying for the 3rd time to pass a referendum. Sounds like we have some similarities. The board is being dumped on but in actuality the board has not asked for an educational referendum in 34 years. Unfortunately, this is not the year to be asking. Especially in IL. where the state income tax increased 40% and not a cent is going to the schools.

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